THE rebirth of Teesside's steelmaking heritage and the North-East's car making prowess has bolstered the region's export market.

More than £3bn worth of North-East goods were bought between October and December, delivering a £290m rise on the previous quarter.

The figure includes steel slab shipped from Redcar's SSI UK to Turkey and Thailand, which spent £177m and £123m respectively on North-East products in the three months.

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Sweden and Norway were also two of the fastest growing export markets in the last quarter, spending £112m and £61m on road vehicles.

The Sunderland-built all-electric Nissan Leaf is the best-selling vehicle in Norway, having overtaken the Volkswagen Golf.

Bosses say the quarterly sales helped increase export sales for the year to December 31 to £342m in Sweden and £251m in Norway.

Regional iron and steel exports stood at £1.2bn for the same period.

The results, revealed by HM Revenue and Customs, confirmed the Netherlands remains the largest single market for North-East goods, with £1.61bn spent in the last 12 months.

David Coppock, regional director for UK Trade and Investment in the North-East, said the figures were positive signs of growth.

He said: “There have been some really strong performances in markets such as Thailand, Norway, Turkey and Sweden, as well as some sectors such as particular iron and steel.

“With our 12 month rolling total of £11.58bn, the challenge now is to continue the upward trend and encourage more companies to export to more markets.”

Despite the growth of vehicles exports to Scandinavia, the report said overall yearly exports in the sector fell by 15 per cent to £4.48bn, with medicinal and pharmaceutical exports dropping 34 per cent to £1.45bn.

The North-East's top 20 export markets:

1 - Netherlands

2 - France

3 - US

4 - Russia

5 - Spain

6 - Italy

7 - Turkey

8 - Thailand

9 - Germany

10 - Sweden

11 - Ireland

12 - Australia

13 - Norway

14 - China

15 - Canada

16 - Belgium

17 - South Africa

18 - Poland

19 - UAE

20 - Finland